though it has been a while, at one point i did know an awful lot about f. scott fitzgerald - or as much as could be known from various biographies. sothough it has been a while, at one point i did know an awful lot about f. scott fitzgerald - or as much as could be known from various biographies. so from the outset, i knew where o'nan's novel was headed. even though that was the case, i still found this an interesting read. i am just a bit bummed that i did not get as immersed in the book as i had hoped - i really thought this was going to be an awesome, escapist read (something i am in desperate need of lately).
stewart o'nan has been a glaring gap in my reading for far too long, so i am glad to have finally taken some time to read one of his books. it's clear he cares deeply about fitzgerald, as evidenced by his sympathetic portrayal in west of sunset. fitzgerald was a deeply troubled and messy guy. f. scott and zelda together were a hot mess. by the time fitzgerald hit hollywood, the shine was off his star; he was fairly broke and homeless - though not without means of earning a living in the potentially lucrative studio systems. i think o'nan does a good job showing readers the effort fitzgerald was making to be productive and provide for zelda and their daughter, scottie, from a distance. (zelda was back east, receiving in-patient hospital care for mental health issues, and scottie was away at school. periodically, f. scott did travel back to visit, and scottie also spent time with her father in california, during her vacations.)
but i felt a bit detached while i was reading and also felt some things (situations, characters...) were not as well developed or explored as they could have been. i also felt the pacing to be a bit off for me. there was such a long build-up to the end... but then it all wound down so quickly in comparison to the exposition. but (yes, a 2nd 'but') my reading mood has been terrible for a while now (everything is just feeling meh or okay, nothing's really wowing me). i am not sure if my mood is causing me to be harder on this book than i would be were i not feeling this way? so i am hanging on to my copy of this book and will reread it down the road. ...more
2.5-stars, really. i found this to be a very uneven story - many characters were not well-used/developed and aspects of the book were very weak.
i was2.5-stars, really. i found this to be a very uneven story - many characters were not well-used/developed and aspects of the book were very weak.
i was very interested in Fritzi and her family, and the history of the WASP program during WWII. i knew nothing about the WASPs, so this was definitely an eye-opening read for me in that regard. i am glad Flagg chose to highlight the program and the women involved.
as much as the story from the perspective of the Jurdabralinski family (Fritzi's clan) was enjoyable, the Poole perspective (Sookie and her family) was just not as strong. most of the characters were thinly developed as to be almost unnecessary (Sookie's husband and children). i also had trouble with Sookie and how she handled/reacted to the big reveal. it seemed really silly to me. and there was a tack-on at the end of the story that just seemed like an afterthought, or trying to get an issue into the book. (the issue itself is totally fine, i am just not keen on how Flagg dealt with this thread of the story. it wasn't done very well.)
my reading has been kind of slump-y lately, and i was looking for something a bit lighter and a bit more fun. i thought this book might fit the bill, but it just didn't work very well for me. i guess if found it a bit too simplistic and surface, with missed potential - so that's too bad. i did really hope to like this story. ...more